THEY’RE young, driven and believe deeply in the future of the Australian livestock export industry and the importance of the role they play exporting Australian livestock handling and animal welfare standards to the world.
Wellard Rural Exports’ Kari Moffat and Halleen Australasian Livestock Traders’ John Cunnington and Patrick Coole spend time in their jobs in overseas markets improving the skills of workers who receive Australian livestock, skills that are then applied to the handling of domestic cattle in the same countries.
At a time when their industry is facing mounting public pressure on animal welfare grounds, the young exporters have no doubts that removing livestock exports would be a regressive step for animal welfare standards in the many countries in which Australian exporters work.
“It is hard to imagine another industry that is doing more for animal welfare globally than this industry,” Mr Cunnington said.
“I get extremely passionate about the industry when I see the in-market staff that we have trained and the effective change that is being made, both culturally and long term to animal welfare.
“They’re changing the way they look at an animal, how they care about an animal, and it shows the real impact the industry is having.”
His colleague Patrick Coole, Halleen Australasian Livestock Traders’ ESCAS manager, said despite requests for animal advocacy organisations to support similar work in destination countries, no one else was doing what the livestock export industry was to
drive genuine cultural change around animal handling techniques in foreign markets.
“In terms of an animal welfare advocacy movement, the live export activities in market blow anyone else out of the water,” he said.
“The training we’re providing in all of these markets is now being incorporated in their own local culture, they’re very receptive to it.”
Wellard’s Kari Moffat said the livestock export industry presented unparalleded opportunities for young people that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
“I don’t think there’s many industries that allow you to travel around the world, especially at a young age,” she said.
“I started on ships when I was 18 and travelled to five different countries in the first two years.
“It opens a lot of doors, you meet a lot of people and the cultural experiences that you get I don’t think you get that in many other industries.”
When the trio identified a need for specific professional development skills for young people in their industry and found it hard to find exactly what they were looking for, and also found others wanted similar training, they took a proactive approach.
They have since created the Young Livestock Exporters Network (YLEN), which was launched at an event preceding the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association conference in Darwin last Thursday night.
The network has been created to give young people (up to the age of 35) reliant on the livestock export industry – including live exporters, producers, agents, stockmen and women, depot staff, transporters, veterinarians and supply chain employees, both in Australia and destination markets – access to relevant professional development opportunities as well as a networking channel for people from throughout the industry.
An initial call for members generated 80 responses, indicating the strong level of demand for the tailored development opportunities the YLEN will provide.
Mr Cunnington, the inaugural YLEN chair who also chairs the WA Live Exporters Association and sits on the Australian Livestock Exporters Council, said the network is about empowering the future generation with the necessary skills to represent their industry and to become future leaders .
“We wanted to create a network that is inclusive so people along the large and complex supply chain are interacting with each other, are talking and working towards the same goal,” he said.
“This is a group where young people can come together, leave their corporate hats at the door and work collaboratively to better themselves.
“We’re not looking to set policy, we’re not looking to be an advocacy group, we’re looking to enable the members with the skills and confidence to make their voice heard.”
YLEN will be conducting its first professional development event for members on April 17 in Perth, which will include sessions with corporate governance and communication experts. Further workshops, seminars and webinars are planned for later in the year.
For further details visit the YLEN web page here